Have the youth given up on Obama?
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December 30th, 2011
09:03 AM ET

Have the youth given up on Obama?

Editor's Note: Brad Chase is a partner with Capitol Media Partners, a Los Angeles-based communications and public affairs consultancy.

By Brad Chase - Special to CNN

In 2008, the youth vote helped sweep Barack Obama into office.  Americans 18-29 spread the word on social media, energized fundraising and went to the polls.

In 2012, the youth vote is moving on and throwing those omnipresent “Hope” bumper stickers and t-shirts in garbage bins.

Not because of apathy.  Not because another candidate generates more enthusiasm.  Not because of his character.  Not because they think voting is pointless.  The 18-29 vote is up for grabs in 2012 because youth can’t afford cars to put bumper stickers on and those t-shirts are worn out from too many days sitting on the couch unemployed.

The sobering reality:  just 55.3 percent of Americans between 16 and 29 have jobs.  And earlier this year, Americans’ student loan debt surpassed credit card debt for the first time ever.

Rather than develop a lasting initiative to help young unemployed Americans, the President launched “Greater Together” – a campaign tool that offers community forums rather than jobs.  Rather than provide a bailout to those crushed by the burden of educational loans, his student debt relief program was pathetic – only reducing interest rates by a measly 0.5 percent.

No wonder less than half of Americans 18-29 approve of Obama.

It’s no surprise the President is ignoring millenials.  They’re too poor to donate to his campaign this election cycle.  Older Americans are 47 times richer than the young – a striking generational gap in prosperity that has widened from a 10 to 1 ratio when Ronald Reagan was running for reelection in 1984.  At the same time, Obama is ringing up donations from older voters.  In the first 10 months of 2011, he attended 58 fundraisers – twice the number President George W. Bush attended during the comparable period before his reelection.  That’s overkill when the GOP candidate is still TBD.

Millenials haven’t embraced any of the GOP candidates yet, but there’s a huge opportunity for the eventual nominee to swoop in and win over the youth vote.  They have a short memory, filled mostly with three difficult years under President Obama’s economic stewardship.  The Center for the Study of the American Electorate reports that the youth vote won’t come out strongly this time around, but there’s little doubt the voting bloc is up for grabs to the first candidate who offers up viable policies – not themes and slogans – to address their issues.

To win the youth vote in November, a Presidential candidate could start by:

Creating a limited student debt forgiveness program:  It would be impractical and foolhardy to create complete debt amnesty.  Instead, erase all federal student debt for those with more than $30,000 in federal student loan debt and cut the bill by 10 percent for those with debts under that threshold.  That still leaves students accountable – no free rides – but it eases the crushing burden on millions of millenials.  H.Res. 365 by Rep. Hansen Clark (D-MI) was a well-intentioned (albeit pie-in-the-sky) call for debt relief and it’s a good starting point for future efforts.

Controls on Predatory Lenders/ServicersMost students need their parents to co-sign loans and then take care of the bills themselves.  But private loan servicers like American Education Services (AES) have no oversight and resort to bully tactics to threaten students’ parents with credit rating ruin as little as five days after a bill comes overdue for the first time.  Not even credit card companies are that ruthless.  There’s nothing more humiliating and stressful to students or parents than getting harassed for short-term delinquencies.  There’s no need for a Credit Protection Financial Bureau, just more oversight on predators like AES.

Allowing Student Loan Discharge in Bankruptcy:  In 2005, bankruptcy law changed to specifically exclude private student loans from being discharged in bankruptcy proceedings.  Young adults don’t want the headache or stigma of going bankrupt, but sheltering private lenders at the expense of recent graduates is wrong.  H.R. 2028 will restore pre-2005 terms – support for the bill would be huge in generating millennial votes.

The ancillary benefit of student debt relief is a stimulus to the economy.  Older Americans might say that giving money back to the young is an invitation to run up debt again, but millenials have watched their parents get underwater with mortgages and credit cards – it’s the pot calling the kettle black to deny young adults their own bailout.  The stimulus will come in the form of solid and responsible purchases:  a first couch, a first bed, a first set of dinner plates.  This isn’t reckless spending, it’s the type of economic stimulus that Obama’s much-touted stimulus should have been.

Without the youth vote in 2008, the President would have lost North Carolina and Indiana – a 26 delegate swing equal to nearly 10 percent of the 270 electoral college votes needed to win.  The 2012 election promises to be closer and the swing of the youth vote could be enough to tip the balance.  It’s time the President did some soul searching on his feelings toward the youth vote.  And he better do it soon, because the GOP candidate is waiting in the wings and won’t hesitate to take the youth vote.

The views expressed in this article are solely those of Brad Chase.

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Topics: 2012 Election • President Obama • Youth

soundoff (996 Responses)
  1. concerned

    Most of the solutions proposed by this article are laughable – more giveaways and more spending. Where have I heard that before? That's right, from every CO2 producing Democrat during the last 30 years.

    That's called 'Greece-ing' the skids to eonomic collapse where the socialist utopians in Greece hasve already seen their average income drop by almost half with their Leftist greed.

    Note to Leftards: Being like the Euro PIIGS is NOT cool at all. But you're too stupid too change.

    December 30, 2011 at 6:03 pm | Reply
  2. Christopher

    Our country would be in 10x better shape if it weren't for the repukes sole objective, which they've admitted to and drawn up some BS contract to do and that is to not allow Obama a second term. They've already proven that they will take this entire country down the sh!tter to make sure that happens. I'm no genius, but this ain't rocket science either, if you don't see what's happening because of that one pledge then you are either dumb, stupid, blind, ignorant or paid to spew crap about this administration and further seperate America from real solutions. Furthermore, if you think any of the clowns vying for the WH right now are better for the country than what we have, then you dear sir/madam are delusioned and should probably be committed.

    December 30, 2011 at 6:08 pm | Reply
    • concerned

      You're right about one thing – you're no rocket scientist.

      I seem to recall that 0bama and the Democrats had it all their own way for two solid years, and 0bama and the Democrats still control the Senate.

      'Repukes' – 4th grade namecalling is always really impressive. And making up delusional crap about Republian objectives goes over big with the sandbox crowd also.

      People are sick and tired of the finger pointing and namecalling from the emotionally arrested Leftist crowd who have only made things worth with their ignorance and arrogance.

      What happened to your hope and change? Lefties were promising great things by now, but they have failed massively.

      Pointing fingers and whining for another four years to screw it up even more is not going to cut it.

      Leftists have no ideas. Their crap didn't work and now all they have left is going massively negative and whining that they can't take responsibility for anything they did. Leftists are egocentric losers who never learn from their mistakes and have no real answers.

      December 30, 2011 at 6:26 pm | Reply
      • concerned

        In fourth paragraph, it should be 'worse', not 'worth' and a couple other typos, also. Sorry about that.

        December 30, 2011 at 6:41 pm |
      • Christopher

        Here's a non-rocket science rebuttal Concerned. Your dribble about what you recollect pales in comparison to the fact of what was actually happening in that two years when democrats controlled the house and senate. The damned repukes would've filibustered the birth of Jesus if Obama had offered it up. In all the history of America the filibuster was NEVER used to that degree for the purposes it was. You sound smart, so don't be stupid and don't think I'm stupid either. For the record you don't have a flippin clue where I reside in the political opinion spectrum. On a brighter note though and more realistically I am what you would refer to as a Proud progressive and that's Mr. Proud Progressive to you Concerned! Get a clue you phoney, the world isn't black and white, it's gray...nor is it libtard vs. repuke...smdh!

        December 30, 2011 at 6:41 pm |
      • concerned

        Christopher – what you posted is no rebuttal – since you agree with me that Democrats had total control of Congress for four years and still have control of the Senate, and 0bama has been failing and flailing for three years now.

        I know how much you self styled 'progressives' love to rewrite history – it's the only way you think you can cover up your massive failures.

        'Progressives' in general are very selfish, ignorant, people with excessively high opinions of themselves. They can't even give a coherent description of what they are 'progressing' to.

        Well, I'll tell you what what 'progressives' have always progressed to – failure, destruction, collapse and human misery.

        The 20th Century was the 'Progressive' century. You had your Marxists, Leninists, Stalinists, Nazis, and other associated fascists and totalitarians.

        "Progressives' have the worst record in human history of genocide (150 million in the 20th Century alone 1/10 of the world's population), repression, suppression of human rights, starvation, economic failure, etc., etc.

        And you are apparently proud of the worst tradition of evil in human history. That means you are kind of a) not too intelligent b) seriously deluded c) ignorant d) something of a psychopath, or some combination of any of the above.

        There is far more that is evil, wrong, stupid and aberrant in 'Progressivism' than in any other aspect of human life except possibly Islamic Fundamentalism – and guess what – Progressives and Islamic Fundamentalists go together like flies and feces, as it turns out.

        I hope these are terms that even you can comprehend. There is virtually nothing about non-Progressivism that is as evil or wrong as progressivism. 150,000,000 excess deaths and universal misery due to 'Progressives' proves my point. You can blither and froth all you want, but 'Progressives' are the closest approximation to evil in the world today, except for perhaps Islamic Fundamentalists.

        December 30, 2011 at 8:21 pm |
    • grimmcreeper

      It's just plain tough being the self-proclaimed fourth best president. Especially when no one appreciates you.

      December 30, 2011 at 6:59 pm | Reply
    • Jerry J

      We finally have the first President and First Lady ever who have attended a Flag Burning.I am sure all you progressives are so PROUD of them!

      December 31, 2011 at 7:55 am | Reply
  3. concerned

    In 2012 we'll see if America's youth are smart enough to walk out from under the Democrat urine stream.

    December 30, 2011 at 6:16 pm | Reply
    • Christopher

      An head south for the republican/libertarian turd droppings, good idea!

      December 30, 2011 at 6:47 pm | Reply
    • Jerry J

      We will see if they have figured out that it is NOT Holy Water!! But my fear is that Santa Claus is going to campaign on
      student debt forgiveness or the hope thereof to sucker their votes one mo' time!

      December 31, 2011 at 7:49 am | Reply
  4. mr sane

    how in THEE WORLD can there be a story OR discussion, withOUT airing out the number ONE reason for this statistic? how is that so few people can figure out that importing over a million people a year from all over the world, has a demented and destructive impact on our employment rates? if SIX BILLION people on the planet ALL come here for jobs, doesn't ANYone think that might have an impact on our country? good grief we are brain-dead about this issue

    December 30, 2011 at 6:23 pm | Reply
  5. cd

    Plain and simple 0bama will NOT get RE-elected,ONE Billion Dollar's Donor money for re-election is Now a L!e,each week we le@rn another age group or voting group that will NOT vote for 0bama. Hollywood and the UNION'S/Wall Street can't come up with 50% of the VOTE!

    December 30, 2011 at 6:53 pm | Reply
  6. Just Rick

    Hey kids, if you want empty promises vote for Obama, if you want a job vote Republican.

    December 30, 2011 at 6:59 pm | Reply
  7. David Rapalyea

    Obama walks on water because he is vaporous. I have heard from reliable sources his is, in fact, President Of The United States. "Honey; I shrunk the President!"

    He seems to claim Mt. Rushmore Status as the fourth most productive President in History. Perhaps he might hope to be declared President For Life.

    December 30, 2011 at 7:16 pm | Reply
  8. David Rapalyea

    Norman Rockwell versus B. Obama

    Hawaii. Indonesia. Boston. Chicago. Its not clear to me he even had so much as a paper route as a kid. A drunken wayward father, yes. A mother who seems to have hated her own country, yes. A wife who was ashamed of her country right through her six digit fake job was abolished once she was gone, yes.

    A minimum wage job? I am not aware of any. Any Lefters around here know if the President ever had a paper route or worked counter at Burger King? Somehow I doubt he did any of those things.

    December 30, 2011 at 7:28 pm | Reply
  9. Golfendude

    So many have tattoo's all over necks and other body parts and things sticking out of the lips and faces that could be a problem for getting a decent job... Clean up you acts THUGS

    December 30, 2011 at 7:36 pm | Reply
  10. I Have A Wee-Weed Up POTUS

    The Obamessiah would like you to know that America's problem is his laziness.

    “There is a deep down... I think there’s a laziness in me.” ~ B. Hussein Obama

    Never fear, the POTUS has prescribed self-treatment for this condition which he experiences frequently:

    "Pot had helped, and booze; maybe a little blow..."

    December 30, 2011 at 7:36 pm | Reply
  11. Aubrey

    Barry Soetoro has no love America. He resents Her. All he is a shady Radical Street Agitator that was marinated in Communist Ideology and actively sought Marxists in College. He has surrounded himself with Marxists, Radicals and those that want to bring America down. Any to this day that support him are either ignorant or feel as he does and what to do harm to America.

    December 30, 2011 at 7:42 pm | Reply
  12. David Rapalyea

    We need to survive one more year of this saboteur; and he can still do a lot of damage in that time. However, his deep deep base [of dead and deeply buried Cook County felons] will likely not travel well to the neighboring States.

    My Republican Poll Watcher buddy in DuPage County told me Republicans never sent Poll Watchers into Cook County. I somehow doubt this can be entirely true. On the other hand, having lived in Chicago Land thirteen years, it seems entirely plausible.

    December 30, 2011 at 7:54 pm | Reply
  13. David Rapalyea

    And just what the hell has Eric Holder got up his sleeve on B. O'Bama? In any administration that I can recall, Democrat or Republican, Holder would have been served up like Eggs Benedict by now.

    December 30, 2011 at 7:58 pm | Reply
  14. Ames Tiedeman

    The country is in severe trouble. The student debt situation is really a national crisis. Young people starting out with this kind of debt is horrible for them and catastrophic on the economy. These newly educated will not be buying houses on the cheap or cars and trucks. GM used to offer newly minted college grads great deals. These days are long gone as the kids don't have jobs or disposable income if they have jobs. 40 years of idiotic trade agreements have turned huge swaths of the nation into poverty stricken ghettos. Is is that bad! We need a total restructure. We must stop employing the world via our consumption and start producing what we consume. The current economic troubles facing America can easily be fixed. The problem is we no longer have a government for the people....

    December 30, 2011 at 7:58 pm | Reply
  15. concerned

    Massive corruption is inherent to Socialism. Think about it. Socialist governments pick favorites all the time. That's the only way their so-called 'elite' can validate their power.

    And, don't let them fool you with anything they say- they hate the middle class, because the middle class is by definition not under their control and can challenge them.

    That's why even though 0bama says he has been 'focused like a laser' on jobs for three years, we have an actual unemployment rate of 11% when you count people who have given up looking for a job – 3 1/2 % higher than when he ass-ended to the Oval Office.

    Look at the jobs that 0bama is talking about – only government jobs and working on road crews. That's about it.

    0bama's only success is putting more people on public assistance than ever in history.

    December 30, 2011 at 8:34 pm | Reply
  16. concerned

    I accuse Holder of racism. He has killed hundreds of Mexicans with 'Fast and Furious', all in an effort to expand government control of private firearms ownership. Obviously it's the socialist 0bamists who are out of control and need to be shut down.

    December 30, 2011 at 8:41 pm | Reply
  17. David Rapalyea

    concerned – Three years ago I would not have entertained the idea Feds would gun run to Mexico to produce tighter gun control in the US. Now it actually seems plausible. This Administration is like some sort of slow motion and slow witted nightmare.

    December 30, 2011 at 8:59 pm | Reply
  18. David Rapalyea


    This administration does come with a silver lining. No matter whether one might or might not be a Socialist, it is clear our Federal System simply is unfriendly to it. O'bama will evaporate, and everyone will want to put a boot up The Federal Governments Butt. Socialists and non Socialists alike.

    I suspect the political climate will become more conducive to States Rights. Given the near biblical levels of malfeasance we have already seen. Solyndra had 1,000 employees, but managed to evaporate $500,000,000 dollars in a mater of months. Correct my math, but doesn't that come out to $500,000 per job LOST?

    December 30, 2011 at 9:06 pm | Reply
  19. Rick Blaine

    Socialism, is evil. The most evil and deceitful ideology in the past two millennia.
    Sure young people are abandoning Democrats and especially Obama. Why not? He has put more people young and old – on welfare since... the Great Depression. He is the Food Stamp King and the Unemployment king and the generator of Hopelessness. As of today 55% of all young people from 18 to 19 are now unemployed. He and his fellow Oligarchy of Democratic party millionaires are stealing everything they can via crony governmental corporate wealth-transfer. He acts like he believes that he is the French King Louis 14th (aka the Sun King). A pox upon them.

    December 30, 2011 at 9:06 pm | Reply
  20. Loonesta

    This would be a problem, if America's 18 to 29 year olds actually bothered to vote in large enough numbers to make a difference, which doesn't seem to have been the case since 2008. Younger voters fail to turn up at non-presidential elections. So older people end up voting things into law and people into office at those times that may not be in the interests of younger people when younger people skip elections.

    December 30, 2011 at 9:07 pm | Reply
  21. Jason

    It really does not matter who wins in 2012 because things will never change. Ron Paul has my vote if I ultimately decide to vote which may not happen cause I'm just so frustrated with these political games. It makes no sense. I feel terrible for my peers that own massive amounts of debt, there's no way on earth that they'll be able to repay it anyimte soon. I have a friend who owes $49,000 that's backloaded with interest and it's very despressing to see my guy so stressed all the time, but he'll be cool, we all will.

    December 30, 2011 at 9:17 pm | Reply
  22. ethandy


    December 30, 2011 at 9:19 pm | Reply
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